- Posted December 6, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
GRANDPARENTS RIGHTS GONE WRONG
You know, I served my country honorably for nine years. Never in a million years would I have imagined that the very same constitutional rights that I served to uphold, would be snatched away from me without a thought.
In 2000, the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling reconfirming that a fit parent's right to care for, have custody of, and make decisions for his or her own child was such an important and basic liberty, that such needed to be secured by the Constitution of the United States. The case was Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000). The Court however, made it so that loving grandparents who may have been shut out of their grandchildren's lives by angry parents, had a right to continue to bond with their grandchildren through court ordered visitation. A delicate decision, it gave state courts the power, where it otherwise didn't have it, to intrude upon the parent's fundamental rights where it felt that it was in the best interests of the child. I don't personally find a problem with this (although I've spoken to a few lawyers who do!) . What I have a problem with is how certain states have taken this ruling and interpreted it into their own laws as they see fit.
No federal law has given the state of Georgia or any other state for that matter, the power to give grandparents equal legal standing in custody cases, as that of the constitutional liberty interest of a fit parent. Troxel v. Granville was about visitation. It was not about custody. It did not grant grandparents the right to compete with fit parents in divorce, for custody of the parents' children. I would give my right arm that it was far from the Justices’ intent to have their decision interpreted by the states in ways that would delete a fit, custodial mother out of a child's life, at the tender age of four. This is what has happened to me.
When I was serving in the Army, one day I dropped my baby, Kiara, off to her babysitter’s house. When I climbed into my car, I realized that I had forgotten to give her sitter her booster seat; so I ran back in with it to find my baby at the window. She didn't hear me come in. As she stood there staring out the window I asked her sitter, "Why is she standing there?" And the babysitter responded, "Oh, she watches you leave every morning." It hurt my heart that she was watching me leave every morning. What hurts even more is the day that she was first taken away from me, her Mommy didn't come back at the end of the day. I don't know what that has done her mental state at this point. She turns fourteen on December 15. That was ten years ago. Grandparents’ rights law made that happen.
No one can tell me that those Justices that made that decision in 2000, meant to separate good parents from their children for good, without the due process of finding them unfit. No one can tell me that the Justices meant for a nurturing Mom like myself to wake up every morning and wonder why my life is this way? Why in the world do I have three federal cases pending about my own child? Why in the world, have I missed ten years of my daughter's life? Why is my first born child living 1,099 miles away from me? Why am I, her fit mother, exercising visitation of my child, from people who aren't her parents? Why do I no longer have any right to decide where she goes to school, what happens if she gets sick? How can this happen in America? Why I am being treated like a perpetrator of crime when my rights were violated? Everyday, it's almost like serving time for a crime I didn't commit and wondering when I'll be exonerated and my life returned to me. No one can tell me that this was the intent of the Justices in 2000.
Grandparents rights have gone horribly, wrong. The state laws have not only misinterpreted what the 2000 court intended by deriving custody, instead of only visitation laws from Troxel v. Granville, but it has given certain grandparents who are not seeking to just continue being close to their grandchildren, a legal way to eliminate a parent they may not care for, out of their own children's lives- without a showing or even an allegation of unfitness. In finding a way to balance the emotional needs of the child, no one can tell me that any Justice sitting on that court felt that a child would fare better in life by being ripped away from a fit, nurturing parent. I'd bet my life that every Justice sitting right now on the United States Supreme Court would agree that such is FAR from the best interest of any child.